Turbos vs. Superchargers
This week's article is a common question we get here at the shop: what's the difference between a turbo and supercharger, and why is turbo the way to go?
Essentially, a turbo is a compressor that is mounted to the exhaust manifold and is driven by exhaust gas on one side, which in turn, forces air into the intake system on the other side. A supercharger is a compressor that is attached to the motor and is driven by the crankshaft, and as the RPM's climb, it forces air into the intake system. Because the supercharger is crankshaft driven, it requires more power from the motor to produce boost, therefore making a turbo more efficient deriving from exhaust gas.
What is Forced Induction?
Forced induction is the process of delivering compressed air to the intake of an internal combustion engine. A forced induction engine uses a gas compressor to increase the pressure, temperature and density of the air. Both Turbochargers and Superchargers are considered forced induction systems.
What is a Supercharger?
A supercharger is a belt driven component that is mounted to your motor that forces air into the intake manifold. The size of the pulley on the compressor will determine your boost pressure based on how fast the motor is turning, a smaller pulley would mean the compressor will spin faster at the same given RPM. Since the motor is required to work harder to overcome the additional drag on the pulley system provided by the supercharger, power to boost efficiency usually suffers as a result.
What is a Turbo?
A turbo is similar, except is has an exhaust housing instead of a pulley which has internal fins driven by exhaust gas. The more RPM's, the more exhaust flow, the faster the turbo spins. Since the turbo is driven of gases already being expelled from your motor and not demanding additional energy from the belt drive, they are regarded as the more efficient forced induction option netting more power for boost compared to superchargers.
I think the choice is pretty clear here, turbos provide more power and efficiency with less draw on the motor. It's no wonder more and more manufacturers everyday are introducing turbochargers to their line-ups, some even switching from superchargers to turbos like Mercedes-Benz. With modern turbochargers, advanced tuning, and multi-gear transmissions, the argument of lack of low end power and late introduction of boost is quickly answered on the first driving experience!